The Lone Wolf—and Other Myths about Terrorism That Won’t Go Away

Yesterday, Ali Harbi Ali—a British subject of Somali background—was formally charged with the murder of David Amess, a veteran member of the British parliament who was stabbed to death last week while meeting with constituents. Ali had previously been called to the attention of Prevent, a UK program for identifying and “deradicalizing” individuals likely to become terrorists. Ayaan Hirsi Ali comments on the misleading and unhelpful ways the case has been discussed by the British public:

For many, the ethnicity and heritage of Ali Harbi Ali were wholly irrelevant to his alleged behavior. Acknowledging that Ali is of Somali background, we were told, is racist and xenophobic. He must only be identified as British. As someone who was born in Somalia, I find this absurd. Of course a suspect is not a murderer because he has a Somali background. But denouncing facts as racist—especially when . . . police and security services believe he may have been inspired by al-Shabaab, [the al-Qaeda offshoot] in Somalia—forces a dangerous ignorance on the public.

In a liberal society, it is appealing to think of suspects of Islamist terror as solitary actors. . . . But while individuals such as Amess’s murderer may conduct their attacks alone, they still emerge out of communities or networks of like-minded individuals, whether in-person or online. They learn from teachers, imams, or instructors the radical ideas that inspire their violence. This is not to say that their entire family or community is extremist—only that these individuals find and are exposed to people who are. Little is known about Ali’s background, but we can be certain that he did not plunge a knife into a total stranger, possibly picked at random, wholly of his own accord. Someone or some group inspired these actions.

[Another] fallacy that must be confronted is the belief that all forms of extremism are created equal and should be treated as such. Under the British counterterrorism Prevent program, Islamism is lumped together with other forms of extremism, such as far-right extremism, and handled with a similar approach. But while right-wing extremism is a threat that should not be downplayed, its causes and motivations are totally unrelated to radical Islamists. They should be considered distinct and handled separately.

Read more at UnHerd

More about: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Immigration, Radical Islam, Terrorism, United Kingdom

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security